Team 25 could have as many as 25 players on it.
The University of Alabama softball team confirmed Monday morning that all seven seniors from its 2020 team will return for the 2021 season, all of them taking advantage of an extra season of eligibility granted by the NCAA after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled spring sports.
Their return, combined with five freshman signees to arrive in the fall, gives UA a more loaded roster than the one that was the preseason No. 1 team in 2020. Here is a look at the team as currently constructed, with the full complement of the 2020 roster and signees.
Two returning seniors, Sarah Cornell and Krystal Goodman, give UA an abundance of pitching depth behind the two feature arms from the shortened 2020 season, Montana Fouts and Lexi Kilfoyl. Fouts and Kilfoyl combined for 98 1/3 innings compared to 37 innings from Goodman and Cornell, but Goodman and Cornell were effective in their innings, combining for a 6-1 record in their 11 appearances.
UA is also adding two pitchers in the recruiting class, Jaala Torrence from Dothan and Alex Slater of Fort Myers, Florida. Both were top 25 prospects in the Extra Inning Elite 100.
Hemphill’s return solidifies things at first base, and gives UA a legitimate power threat, too. In 2019, she broke UA’s record and tied the SEC’s record for single-season home runs with 26, all while leading the NCAA with 84 RBI. Fellow returning senior Taylor Clark can also play the position.
There are no seniors in the rest of the starting infield (Savannah Woodard at second base, Skylar Wallace at shortstop and Maddie Morgan at third base), and freshman Abby Doerr was emerging as a freshman catcher near the season’s end.
Signees Bailey Dowling and KJ Haney also project to the infield, and local product Kat Grill (American Christian Academy) will enter the program listed as both an infielder and outfielder, providing depth alongside returning senior Claire Jenkins.
Alexis Mack choosing to return for a second senior season gives UA its leadoff hitter (.418), left fielder and top base stealer back for one more season. Jenna Johnson will return as the center fielder, a freshman who said she benefitted greatly from the leadership of returning senior Elissa Brown.
Right fielder KB Sides had the team’s best bat at the end of the season: .483 batting average, .586 slugging percentage and 22 RBI were all team highs.
Grill could also fit into an outfield role as a freshman, in addition to Kaylee Tow, a junior who mostly played in 2020 as a designated player.